By Jennifer Ordon As many of you know, I have been sewing costumes almost since the beginning of my belly dance journey. Fitting costumes are a MUST after a purchase. But oftentimes, especially with those with little sewing skills, I see a few questionable methods of obtaining the right fit. This lack of knowledge makes it very cumbersome later on when the dancer is trying to change into (or out of) costume because they simply did not know how to adjust items for fit and ease.
Today, we are going to talk about a few of my favorite items for securing costumes and making changing into or out of them a breeze. Some of the items here are going to go against the grain, but I ask you to have an open mind.
Use Male and Female Clasps NOT Clothes Pins
Please for the sake of your costume and its longevity, stop using safety pins to secure them.
You have spent hundreds if not thousands on a costume made with gorgeous fabrics and skillfully beaded designs. Why on earth would you proceed to poke it with holes with a metal object that rusts repeatedly? Not only that, but it takes forever to put the costume on with all this hassle of pinning and re-pinning.
For attaching your belt to your skirt; Use these male and female sew-on snaps. I highly recommend the 30mm size as these are rather large and tough. You can use these as an extra security measure on your bra bands too. I love them, and the color you buy them in honestly does not matter as no one will see it. These are designed to withstand the wear and tear of continual use so they won't be rusting or causing issues any time soon.
For only $11 you can get a 10 pair pack, which is a heck of a deal. You will need one pair for the front of your skirt and belt, and a second pair for the back of your belt and skirt. And a third pair if you want to use them as extra security for the bra band (which I would do if I were you).
PRO TIP: place the protruding (male side) on the skirt and the female side on the inside of the belt.
Once you have sewn the clasps down, it will take all but 4 seconds to secure your skirt to your belt when it comes time to perform. No more searching for pins, poking holes on gorgeous costumes, or spending time trying to adjust things at your gig.
For Loose Skirts Around the Hip, Create an Elastic Casing
I know many of you out there go up and down in weight, so elastic casing is going to be your best friend. I noticed this method in my Bella costumes early on and how it secured my skirts to my body very well. It is a technique I use for off-the-rack 2-piece costumes where the skirt is loose on my upper hip.
Here is a nifty article from Mao of Sparkly Belly, with pictures of how to do this. It is easy I promise. You do this right once and it will last. the only difference between her article and my methodology is that I use a different type of thread which I will share below and I double reinforce the casing by repeating it two times across.
Here are the Materials You Will Need:
embroidery thread (i love these because it comes in all the colors your costumes typically come in)
large-eyed sewing needle (it is like a regular needle but usually the one with the bigger hole on the end if you buy the packs.
elastic in a color that most closely resembles your skin tone or costume color
A few sewing pins
PRO TIP: embroidery thread is made up of 6 individual strands. I divide my embroidery thread into pairs (2 strands). With 2 strands together, it is super strong! I am all about longevity. I want to make these adjustments one time and not have to do it again lol!
Bra Straps Need to be PERFECTION
Bra Straps that are loose cut off the torso length, lead to unwanted spillage and give a messy look. Of course, the first course of action is to properly sew these down at home before you ever wear the costume, but if you are in a situation where you don't have time, here are a few ideas:
tightening crisscross straps: use a large hook and eye to connect them at the back in your desired location to get that perfect fit.
tightening over the shoulder straps: You will need to sew these down. If you are at a gig and find yours are crazy loose, grab a string and lasso them together with a knot until you can get home and sew these down.
tightening halter straps: if you are at the gig and the halter straps are not tight enough, this is the only situation where you will have to use a safety pin (no way to save you otherwise). Once you get home, sew proper hook and eyes or clasps in.
Frankly, I am obsessed with elastic straps as they allow me to not have a neck ache after a gig (you know what I'm talking about). If possible, learn how to create new straps using elastic and use those instead. But this is a whole other topic, so I will save this for another time.
Skirt Too Long
The excitement of a new costume is everything! Oftentimes we are so excited to wear it we forget to think about the skirt length once all else is adjusted. Here are the solutions so you don't ruin that beautiful skirt with pins:
Serging is the #1 way to go. The seamstress can bring up the skirt to your desired length and it will be a custom fit.
If you are already at the gig, tuck the skirt in at the side or wrap it around over to one side in a Grecian fashion.
Don't you dare pin those skirts if you can help it! Silk, chiffon, satin, woven fabrics...these all will ruin with pinning, so please take care of your fabrics and sew things down or tuck them until you can get to your sewing machine.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
I hope these tips help. Putting on your costume should take no more than 1 minute (I am serious) and the same amount of time to take off (or you are doing it wrong Jiji). Any performer who has worked multiple shows in a day or night or a production knows that quick changes are everything. Make your gig and show experience less stressful. The last thing to worry about should be your costume fit when you are getting ready to dance. Pick a costume to sew per week and you will have couture fitting costumes in no time!
For those of you who are interested in creating belly dance costume belts and bras of your own, feel free to visit my online studio with courses for sewing mavens.
Jennifer is an internationally renowned, multi-award winning artist (including Bellydancer of The World 2013). She entered the bellydance scene in 06/11/07 and has become the top choice for entertainment in Orlando FL at birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events ever since.
She is well-known for her creativity, charisma and abdominal feats that she proudly displays in every performance. She sets herself apart with her superior commitment to excellence. By combining her studies and experiences with MENATH cultures, prior event management expertise and belly dance training, she has created shows that audiences have thoroughly enjoyed.